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How to Crate Train Your Puppy

Why do we recommend crate training?

Puppies left unsupervised can get into a lot of trouble! In no time they will have chewed your favourite shoes, soiled your carpet, or wrecked your couch. They can also cause harm to themselves by falling or getting trapped or eating something that will make them sick. That’s why crate training is so important for your new puppy. It keeps them safe!

Also, if the right size crate is used, it’s a wonderful tool to help with housetraining! It’s a win-win! Don’t ever feel guilty when you are crate training – if done correctly, your puppy will love their crate, and use it as a safe haven and a place to rest.

How to choose a crate

Choose a well-ventilated crate that is just large enough for your puppy to stand up, lie down, and turn around. If any larger, they will sleep on one side of the crate, and use the other end as their “bathroom!” If you have a large breed puppy check out your local pet store for the best option. Some larger crates come with dividers, so you don’t end up having to buy multiple crates.

The location you place the crate is crucial as well. The best place is in a room you and your family frequent often, such as the kitchen, den, bedroom, etc. Try not to pick an isolated room such as the laundry or furnace room. If your dog already has a favourite place to lay down and sleep, this is most likely the ideal place to put the crate.

How to get started with crate training

Start by lining it with blankets and place a few toys inside to make it cozy. Place treats inside the crate, so the puppy is motivated to go inside and explore. You can also get them trained to a cue such as “Go to your Kennel” and give them a treat as soon as they go inside and sit.

The first confinement session should be after a period of play, exercise and elimination (i.e. when he wants to rest). Give him a treat once he is in his crate and close the door. Start in increments of 10 minutes and work up to more extended periods. Try not to let him out if he is whining or crying. Sometimes a toy, such as a stuffed KONG toy, works well to keep them distracted. Release the puppy when he is quiet, or when he wakes from his nap. Always bring him outside immediately after a crating session!

Slowly work up to more extended periods, and start using the crate as a bed during the night so he feels safe and secure. They may cry the first night or two. In most cases, they are merely adjusting to home without their mom and littermates.

What NOT to do when crate training your puppy

  • Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter.
  • Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog that’s crated all day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter or take your dog to a daycare facility to reduce the amount of time they spend in their crate each day.
  • Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time.

If you have any other questions about crate training, don’t hesitate to email or call us at Acadia Veterinary Hospital!

Written by Dr. Beth Martin, DVM

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